March 11, 2013
A University of Virginia graduate student says he wants to the face to represent students on Charlottesville City Council, and he plans to file paperwork to become a candidate in the Democratic primary this June.
Adam Lees was born and raised in Florida but came to Virginia in 2007 to attend Hampden-Sydney College.
"I knew I wanted to come to Virginia," Lees said. "It's been in my blood too long."
Sitting in a downtown coffee shop Monday afternoon, the 24-year-old graduate student has his eyes on an even bigger seat: Charlottesville City Council.
"There is this space that needs to be filled between the city, between the residents and between the students," Lees said.
"They are a population that needs representation, so we welcome a student choosing to run in the primary," said Linda Seaman, co-chair of the Charlottesville Democratic Party.
Lees is in the process of filling out paperwork to run in the Democratic primary, scheduled for June 11. From talking to students and being a student, he's taken an interest on issues like towing, parking and noise.
"It started this impression of mine that town-gown relations here were really poor, which surprised me a lot," Lees said.
As his campaign starts to come into focus, Lees is working on wrapping up his thesis. He'll graduate from UVa. this May with a master's degree in international relations, and he hopes to pursue his doctoral degree there, as well.
"Graduate school is a major imposition, but by the same token, all the councilors have jobs of their own," Lees said of handling the workload that comes with being a councilor. "Whatever I need to do to do that successfully, I will make sure I have room."
"It will help students be well represented," Seaman said. "They are a major force in this community."
Democrats welcome his fresh ideas, and Lees said he's in it for the long haul.
"There's nothing about Charlottesville that stands out that I absolutely detest that would drive me away," Lees said. "This is where I could see staying for the rest of my life."
At the very least, Lees said if he encourages just one fellow student to cast a vote in a local election, his campaign would be worth it.
Lees said he's still collecting signatures. He's aiming to get the 125 he needs by Sunday so he can file all the paperwork together on Monday.